Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburgh. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburgh. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Trump’s Judaism Order Has Nothing to Do With Fighting Anti-Semitism

The man who called neo-Nazis "very fine people" has no business defining anti-Semitism for the rest of us.

Sarah Gertler

 by OtherWords

The Trump administration says it’s anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. That’s the gist of a recent executive order that would treat campus calls to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Semitic discrimination on the basis of “national origin.”

Days after the order, the synagogue I most often attend here in Washington, D.C. became another of the hundreds in the U.S. to be vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Swastikas and the word “Jew” were found gouged into its historic doors.

This graffiti isn’t the symbol of the nonviolent boycott movement. It’s the symbol of the neo-Nazis Trump called “very fine people.”

Every mainstream headline I saw about Trump’s recent order seemed to accept that it was designed to combat anti-Semitism. You could almost forget that Trump himself is one of the single biggest dangers facing the Jewish community in this country today.

During his presidency, he’s called rooms full of Jewish people “brutal killers” while making excuses for Nazis after Charlottesville. His former chief strategist was the head of an alt-right website.

Trump has backed white supremacist conspiracies that migrant caravans are secretly funded by Jews, said Jews who vote for Democrats show “great disloyalty,” and — at his Hanukkah party, no less — gave the floor to a pastor who says that Jews are going to hell. Subtle.

And never mind that categorizing Jewishness as a “national origin” hearkens back to anti-Semitic trope that, wherever we go, we’re an “alien people.”

Under Trump, anti-Semitic hate crimes have skyrocketed to historic levels, and it’s affecting us all.

Every time I’m in a large Jewish gathering, I can’t help but think of the massacres in Pittsburgh and Poway and Jersey City. I find myself looking around the room, wondering: Will it happen here at high holiday services, or at this showing of Fiddler on the Roof with my friends?

The man whose presidency forces me to ask these questions is clearly not trying to protect me. So why did he pass this executive action?

The meat of this action is aimed at Israeli boycott movements on college campuses across the U.S. It threatens to withhold federal funding from schools where students organize events linked to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

As a Jewish activist, let me assure you: Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitic.

It’s been pushed for years by Trump education official Kenneth L. Marcus, who equates boycotting Israel with Holocaust denial. It’s the support of far-right figures like Marcus the president is after. As Trump recently told the Israeli American Council, “You have to vote for me. You have no choice.”

As a Jewish activist, let me assure you: Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitic.

Aside from the fact that many of those fighting for their colleges to divest from Israel are Jewish themselves, the BDS movement is one of the only available ways to protest the U.S.-backed brutalization of Palestinians that’s continued ceaselessly for decades. This is a human rights issue, no matter your religion.

Shutting down BDS allows Trump to support Israel’s far-right government in systematically abusing Palestinians, secure the support of some politically powerful pro-Israel voters, and convince the public it’s being done in the name of protecting Jews.

It’s not. When Jews and non-Jews alike speak up for human rights and are crushed into silence, no one is safer. When congresspeople who speak up against this are slandered as anti-Semitic, while our clearly anti-Semitic president is not, no one is safer.

As a Jew, I know Trump is not supporting the people who congregate in synagogues to sing, eat, pray, and live. He’s emboldening the ones gouging swastikas into the doors.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Sarah Gertler

Sarah Gertler

Sarah Gertler is the Newman Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo